Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Summer in Full Bloom

Every year I am enthralled by the transformation from the starkness of our winters to the summers filled with so much growth, so much green, so much vibrant sound and color. I wonder if people who live where the change between seasons is more subtle can truly appreciate either – the bare, frozen beauty of winter or the full-bloom splendor of summer, to say nothing of autumn’s burst of hues and spring’s welcome sprouting.

I love all the seasons, but summer is the one I’m often most reluctant to see go, perhaps because, despite the long days, it seems to pass so quickly. Now, in the hot, waning days of July, already a month past the solstice, I strive to appreciate each long day, every moment of lingering light, all the colors I spy.

Often, my last look outside at bedtime and first look in the morning is through a window toward the back of the house. The field there is green and tall with grasses, ferns, and unfettered wildflowers. The apple trees, left unpruned for so many years, boast sprawling green canopies. From the edges of field and forest, the fully-leafed branches of maple and birch trees spill toward the field. The July view from here is almost jungle-like in its verdure.

Meanwhile, the vegetable gardens, where in spring I planted seeds beneath bare soil, are brimming with summer goodness. The early shell peas have already been consumed, their stalks, browned by summer’s heat, pulled to make way for another planting of carrots. The snap peas persist, joined by the sprawling rows of green beans, the full and frilly tops of carrots, multi-colored lettuces, and the giant, twining leaves of zucchini and cucumbers.

I find happy satisfaction in seeing the garden in its summer glory. Even more in picking the bounty there, bit by bit, tasting summer’s progress by the day. This year, I added a row of zinnias alongside the sungold tomatoes. I love the happy, colorful blooms of these annuals, and it seemed apt to plant a bit of extra hope in such a strange year. The buds, tightly whirled circles of petals just last week, have burst now into blooms lush with color.

And the light. Ah, summer’s light. The sky is already brightening when I awaken, no matter how early (though I’m already noticing that brightening beginning a bit later than it did just a couple of weeks ago). Birdsong and butterflies and the scents of growing, blooming things fill the air through the long days. Afternoons are fully lit, all the way through. And light lingers long now, past dinner and cleaning up, past winter bedtimes.

Many nights, the children play outside in this protracted illumination, their voices mixing with the thrush’s evening song and the warm air, adding to summer’s fullness. Some nights, I stroll along the driveway with the dog as she surveys her domain, or I sit on the porch with a book, or with my own thoughts.

Often, these days, those thoughts can feel as heavy as the humid summer air that settles in just before a thunderstorm. From here, perched safely in my own small corner of the world, I breathe in the goodness of this season and watch clouds glide over the mountains of home, reflecting the colors of long summer evenings.

Original content published by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. This essay appears as Meghan's July 30, 2020 Close to Home column in the Littleton Record.

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